Bill to fine illegal Airbnb listings passes state legislature

Those who post listings on Airbnb for less than 30 days could soon face a hefty fine

The state legislature is going after Airbnb’s multi-billion dollar business once again, passing a bill that slaps fines starting at $1,000 on illegal rentals through the apartment-sharing site.

“I’m elated,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the chief sponsor in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. “You should know who your neighbor is and what happens when people rent out their apartments on Airbnb is you get strangers. Every night there could be a different person sleeping in the next apartment and it shatters that sense of community in the building. It also can be dangerous.”

Apartment rentals of less than 30 days are illegal in New York unless the sublessor occupies the apartment. But according to a Real Deal analysis, about 60 percent of Airbnb’s listings in the city are for whole units, according to the data, meaning the sublessor isn’t home.

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The bill also fines New Yorkers who advertise their apartments on Airbnb and similar sites for less than 30 days, according to the New York Post. They would also face fines that start at $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 the second time and $7,500 for the third violation.

However, Airbnb argued that for many low-income New Yorkers, Airbnb has become an essential source of revenue.

“For thousands of New Yorkers, Airbnb has become an economic lifeline, making it possible to pay the bills, make ends meet and stay in their homes,” said Airbnb spokesman Josh Melzter.

The new fine system awaits Gov. Cuomo’s signature. [NYP]Christopher Cameron